Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

The Elephant in the Room

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Elephant in the Room (Rocky Pond Books, 2021) by Holly Goldberg Sloan is much more than an immigrant story or a story about autism or even a story about winning the lottery. Plus a real elephant. Told in multiple points of view, this story is a compelling read.

Sila was born in Oregon but her parents are Turkish citizens and something was wrong with her mother’s paperwork so after 15 years in America, her mother has to go back to Turkey. And it’s Sila’s fault. Living without her mother for the last eight months is the hardest thing Sila has ever known. Then she and her dad meet Gio, who won the lottery. And the three of them meet Veda, a circus elephant, whom Gio buys because of Sila. When Sila is assigned to be a partner to Mateo, she surprises herself by inviting him to meet Veda. Who knew this series of events would give hope to everyone involved.

Read about Holly here and check out her other books here.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books

Finally Seen

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Finally Seen (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2023) by Kelly Yang is so so goood!! It’s hard to tell you how much I like it. 😉

Ten-year-old Lina Gao has been living in China with her grandmother, Lao Lao, and finally gets to go live in America with her parents and younger sister who left five years ago. But all is not well in Los Angeles. Things are definitely not what she expected. Like her English being good enough. And her sister in all the family pictures, but none of her. Have her parents even missed her? Plus, Lina feels guilty about leaving Lao Lao behind.

This character and her situation felt so real. I loved seeing how Lina grew and changed and how she changed things around her.

Kelly Yang is an award winning and bestselling author. On her Finally Seen page, she asks kids what books make them feel seen. Check out her books here and scroll to the bottom to read the FAQs.

(Previously I recommended her book Front Desk here.)

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog (Dutton Children’s Books, 2016) by Adam Gidwitz and illuminated* by Hatem Aly is a differently told medieval tale that was very fun.

“The king is ready for war.” Against three children and their dog. The setting is a French Inn where travelers gather to discuss the strange events. Each person knows a part of the tale. Along the way, we meet the peasant girl named Jeanne, the young monk named William, and the Jewish boy named Jacob. Each has a special gift: visions of the future, supernatural strength, and healing. And, of course, there’s Gwenforte the dog, who has come back to life.

*this term is explained in the book.

This book is a Newbery Honor Book and Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award.

Adam has also written the Grimm series (Tall Dark and Grimm is on Netflix), the Unicorn Rescue Series, and some Star Wars books. Check them out here. Read about Adam here.

Read about the fabulous illustrator Hatem here. See all the books he’s illustrated here and I enjoyed looking at his sketchbooks.

Posted in MG Novels, So Many Good Books, YA Novels

Two Books – Same Theme

As a kid I was horrified to learn about Nazi Germany and the holocaust. How could people think like that?! My naive self thought antisemitism would disappear. And, of course, so would Nazis. Unfortunately not. Here are two books to help middle grade and young adult readers with these topics. Both are told in multiple points of view.

Linked (Scholastic Press, 2021) by Gordon Korman deals with what happens when a student paints a swastika on the school walls. Meet Michael, Lincoln, and Dana all struggling with the aftermath in their quiet town. Who did it and why? (mg novel)

The Assignment (Ember, 2020) by Liza Wiemer starts out with the good intentions of a teacher wanting his students to understand how horrific the genocide of the Jews was, but his approach is wrong and two students–best friends Logan and Cade–take on the battle to get the assignment canceled. (YA novel)

Both stories have surprising twists and are thought provoking.

Gordon Korman is a many-times-published author. On his website this time, I learned his first book was published when he was fourteen!

The Assignment is Liza Wiermer’s second novel and has won numerous honors. Check it out here. Read about Lisa here.

Posted in Award Winners, MG Novels, So Many Good Books

A Wish in the Dark

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

A Wish in the Dark (Candlewick Press, 2020) by Christina Soontornvat is my favorite read so far this year!

Pong was born in Nomwan Prison. He and his best friend and Somkit stare at the lights of Chattana–the city that one man, the Governor, brought light to after the great fire. If only they could escape there.

Nok is the daughter of the prison warder. She and her family are at Nomwan because the Governor is coming to visit. To her shock the young Pong approaches the Governor.

Pong thinks that such a good man as the Governor will see how unfair it is for children born to prisoners to be imprisoned. But when the Governor doesn’t agree, all that’s left to Pong is to escape, which he does.

Nok’s father is blamed for Pong’s escape and she wants to capture him to restore her family’s name. But secrets she discovers in her quest make her question everything she’s ever known.

Who will win in this unfair world?

The story has many surprising twists and turns. This Thai-inspired fantasy is a 2021 Newbery Honor book–I can’t believe I didn’t read it sooner. Plus, it has won other awards and been put on many lists. See those here.

Christina has written a number of award winning books in a variety of categories–read more about her here and see all her books here.